Autism not only contributes to the mental anguish of the patient's family, but is also associated with a huge economic burden to the family and state. Therefore, policy makers should take this aspect into account while taking decisions regarding this neurodevelopmental problem.
AdvertisementAutism appears in children due to a problem with brain development. The children experience difficulty in communication. They remain withdrawn and have problems with social interaction. They follow repetitive behaviors and do not like to be disturbed during the activities. A significant number of cases are associated with intellectual disability.
Autism does not have a cure. Mild cases may lead a near normal life. More severe cases need support throughout life and various therapies that could possibly help to improve the condition of the children. Some of the therapies used in autism include auditory integration therapy, sensory integration therapy, play therapy and music therapy.
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have highlighted the severe financial stress that is associated with the treatment of autism. In their study published in JAMA Pediatrics, they found that lifetime costs to support a child with autism without intellectual disability is $1.4 million in the United States and the United Kingdom. The costs are significantly higher for those with intellectual disability - $2.4 million in the United States and $2.2 million in the United Kingdom.
The costs mentioned in the study are not only those directly related with the treatment of the patient, but also associated with other costs like non-medical services, employment support and loss of productivity in adulthood as well as that of the parents. Economists from Penn and the London School of Economics were also a part of the study.
The study thus gives food for thought to policy makers to allocate resources appropriately for the management of autism patients. The researchers also suggest that enacting policies to ensure that the parents work life is not affected will go a long way in managing the financial impact on the patients and their families.